Kate Winslet is unhappy Ginny. She’s a wanna-be actress stuck as a waitress and married to Jim Belushi’s Humpty. He’s a working stiff with a drinking problem whose estranged daughter reconnects with him. She’s hiding out from the mob. They want to kill her for knowing too much.
Wandering by the sea one day, Ginny encounters a life guard who wants to be a writer. They connect and have a sordid summer affair. The life guard narrates the movie and is done wonderfully by Justin Timberlake. Juno Temple plays Humpty’s daughter, the only three-dimensional person in Woody Allen’s movie.
Typical of an Allen-written and -directed project, the plot is complex. Sometimes Allen heads into some interesting side trips, and at other times you wonder what possessed him to add a segment to the story. Most of the characters — like all Allen movies — have oodles of psychological insecurities.
The acting — especially that of Winslet — is superb.
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This isn’t the best Allen movie you’ve ever seen, but it is the best he’s done in a while. What I loved about the film is how Allen ends it — how he ends it in the only way possible. Oddly it’s a satisfying solution to a unique twist on a love triangle.
Like all Allen movies that don’t star the Woodman, you spend almost as much time deciding which character is Allen as you do paying attention to the plot. In this case — as with most of his recent films — each of the characters has one of his traits, and all of them end up sounding like Allen.
Or maybe it’s just Allen’s predictable dialogue forcing them all to sound a bit like him. Whatever the case, the digression you’ve just read proves my point. Even writing Wonder Wheel’s review requires spending way too much time addressing the question.
Movie name: ‘Wonder Wheel’
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Jim Belushi, Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and language. It’s playing at the AMC Kennewick 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.